Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

First Advisor

Joseph B. Berger

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Williams

Third Advisor

Jeungok Choi

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research


The United States is rapidly becoming a more racially diverse nation. Racial minority groups are projected to make up 47% of the total population in 2050 and if current population trends continue, they are projected to surpass the non-minority population by the end of the twenty-first century. Furthermore, the Latino population, already the nation's largest minority group, is expected to triple in size and is projected to account for 29% of the total U.S. population by 2050. Unfortunately, the educational pipeline has created a shortage of Latinos in higher education. At the same time, the United States is suffering from a national shortage of registered nurses. It is, therefore, of great concern that the proportion of minority students in nursing education programs is also not keeping up with population trends. Moreover, persistent inequalities in educational opportunities have led to persistent social inequalities between majority and minority groups, including inequalities in healthcare. Increasing racial diversity among health professionals is essential, not only as a matter of educational equity, but also because evidence indicates that diversity among providers is associated with improved access to healthcare for racial minorities. A main route to upward mobility and equality of opportunity for minorities in the healthcare industry is equity of access and success in achieving the baccalaureate nursing degree. There is an increasing body of literature which addresses retention and persistence of minority nursing students; however, the greater majority has focused on Chicano Hispanics and Black students. Further research is needed to identify factors associated with retention and persistence of other Latino groups. This study uses a qualitative design with Spradley's method of ethnographic interviewing to learn about the experiences of Puerto Rican nursing students attending college in the Northeast. Obligations to family, financial constraints and academic under-preparedness are some of the key findings gleaned from analysis of the data.